Playskill is a local charity that runs parent and child term-time groups for pre-school children with special physical needs.
Groups are run by a skilled team, including a Paediatric Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist and Speech and Language Therapist.
We are based in Watford and Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, and welcome interest from all local areas, including Three Rivers, Dacorum, St. Albans and Bushey.
The origins of Playskill
Playskill started as a response to the needs of local children with physical difficulties. Andrea Clarke was working as a physiotherapist in the local area (Hertfordshire), but was unable to respond to the needs alone. She realised that the families concerned felt isolated and that their needs and the needs of their children were not understood. She had previously worked with a pre-school group in Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, which included the participation of local NHS therapists, and had seen the success that weekly group work could bring. She felt that if she were able to bring a team of therapists and older parents together to provide support and a listening ear, children, parents/carers and siblings could be helped at once. The community would then begin to become more inclusive, informed and fulfilled as it worked with the children and families.
The initial step was to prove the need for a new project of this type. The local NHS services stated that there was no such need and no money available. Andrea, therefore, set up the pilot project.
Pilot group (following fund-raising and support from Scope and UNLTD) in the summer term 2006.
Providing an environment for play and to practise therapeutic tasks with children with physical difficulties or known disabilities.
Therapy input within the group working with parents/carers and children
Networking and informal support for parents/carers
Group dynamics (children inspiring other children to gain new skills)
Results from the summer pilot group were very positive with 100% wanting the group to continue, 86% felt they had learnt skills to carry on with their child and 100% wanted another place for the next group. 71% felt the group had met all their expectations with 29% saying it had surpassed them. 79% of the children’s individual targets were achieved at the end of the group.
Andrea successfully sought funding for Playskill as a voluntary group from the Community Champions Fund and then the Local Network Fund and Awards for All to fund 2006-2007. Playskill became a charity in February 2008.